The M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo have said they will not retreat from their positions after regional leaders set a 18:00 Friday local time deadline for them to cease fire and retreat or face a regional force.
Their spokesman Canisius Munyarugerero has told the BBC Great Lakes that the group is ignoring Wednesday’s decisions in the Angolan capital, Luanda, because “we were not invited to that meeting” to discuss the DR Congo conflict.
Leaders from DR Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, and the former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta – who’s a mediator to the conflict – had convened in Luanda in the meeting hosted by the Angolan president.
“We M23 are not Burundians, we are not Rwandans, we are not Kenyans, not even Angolans. We are Congolese, and we are home, they are telling us to withdraw to where?” Mr Munyarugerero posed.
The M23 now occupies a big area in North Kivu province and is threatening to capture Goma, the main city in eastern Congo.
Before the war began afresh, they held positions at Sabinyo Volcano near the border with Rwanda.
The Luanda meeting decided that if M23 did not abide by the deadline, regional forces being deployed to the eastern DR Congo would enforce it.
Asked if they were ready to face a regional force, Mr Munyarugerero said: “Just know that we won’t retreat.”